Sunday, April 15, 2012

Making Nice with the Vikings

This article indicates that Canada and Denmark may be settling their dispute over Hans Island, which is a random small bit of land between Greenland and Canada.  Arctic sovereignty may have some substance to it, but I remain a skeptic, thinking that it is important in Canada because of nationalism and little else. 

Yes, there are minerals to be divided, but that is not new.  The US and Canada can resolve where to draw the line so that both can have access to the hard to reach oil/gas/whatever.  Russia is making big claims, but cannot do much about them.  The big issue divided the US and Canada is over the Northwest Passage. The US likes to drive its ships through any strait, asserting its rights under the law of the sea.  Canada considers the passage to be its own territory.  Some would argue that Canada should side with Russia against the US, but that is foolishness of the highest order. 

Canad and the US have worked out all kinds of deals in the past, including shared defense of North American airspace (NORAD).  Right now, a key obstacle has been Canadian nationalism, with Harper playing it up the issue of arctic sovereignty.  The good news, as the article mentions, is that majority government in Canada means that Harper can make a deal with the Danes that will not matter in a few years when the next election occurs.  Plus it is hard to believe the pacifist NDP could outbid the Conservatives on belligerence.  The Liberals also cannot credibly posture as being more hostile.

There are lots of good reasons for the Canadians and Danes to make a deal now, given how much they have in common and given how little Hans Island matters in the broader scheme of things.  The linked article covers the bases pretty well.

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